Zuma improves cabinet

2013-07-10 00:00

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma reshuffled his cabinet yesterday, using the exercise to get rid of a staunch critic and another minister who proved to be the source of much embarrassment for his government.

Zuma fired three ministers and changed the portfolios of another two.

Opposition parties last night welcomed the reshuffle, which was obviously cleared beforehand with Cosatu, but said a few more inept ministers could have been fired.

This is the fourth cabinet shuffle since Zuma became president in 2009. Because cabinet appointments are the president’s prerogative, he did not have to give reasons for his decisions.

In one of the most significant moves, Zuma fired Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, replacing him with Western Cape union activist Connie September.

Multi-millionaire Sexwale used his own aeroplane for official ­journeys in South Africa, but his limitless political ambition seems to have now resulted in him being relegated to the political wilderness.

Last year Sexwale publicly announced his presidential ambitions against Zuma.

Political observers last night speculated that Sexwale would not sit comfortably on the parliamentary back benches and would probably focus on his business interests and his ongoing, messy divorce.

His axing came a day after the ANC denied that the party was purging itself of members who had not supported Zuma’s re-election.

Sexwale has in the past also been close to former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, who recently launched his own party, the Economic Freedom Fighters.

Dina Pule’s dismissal as minister of Communications was expected. She has in recent months caused a series of embarrassments and Parliament’s Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests is currently investigating her role in the ICT Indaba during June last year.

She will be replaced by Yunus Carrim, until yesterday the deputy minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Carrim is known as honest, hard-working and an independent thinker who sometimes goes against the ANC flow. A fully functioning SABC board will be high on his to-do list.

The third head that rolled yesterday was that of Richard Baloyi, who as minister of Co-operative Governance could not apply salve to the ANC’s Achilles heel — non-functioning municipalities.

This tough portfolio is now headed by Lechesa Tsenoli, a moderate and hard-working former deputy minister and MEC in the Free State, from whom little fireworks are expected.

Political analysts were still wondering about the reshuffling of Dipuo Peters from Energy to Transport and of Ben Martins from Transport to Energy.

Martins carries more weight than Peters and did not make any waves in his short tenure as minister of Transport.

Concerning the deputy ministers, Andries Nel was moved from Justice to the equally tough Co-operative Governance portfolio.

Nel’s vacancy was filled with the most controversial appointment of the day: John Jeffery, the outspoken ANC MP and former attorney who recently had to withdraw his derogatory statements on the DA’s Lindiwe Mazibuko. Jeffery may become Zuma’s battering ram against the judiciary.

Pam Tshwete, widow of the late former minister Steve Tshwete, replaces Tsenoli as deputy minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, while the widely respected advocate Mike Masutha, who as a partially sighted person uses Braille in Parliament, will fill the vacant post of the deputy minister of Science and Technology.

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